Dating back to the 12th Century, the Ksour of Ait Benhaddou is one of Morocco’s most iconic monuments. This UNESCO World Heritage site, situated close to the desert frontier town of Ouarzazate, is a fortified village (known locally as a Ksour) and is made up of a collection of well-preserved Kasbahs – or fortified houses. The view from the western approach across the River Ounila is breathtaking with nothing quite preparing the visitor for it, set against a backdrop of the High Atlas Mountains. This site is one of Morocco’s must-see places and no journey around the south of Morocco would be complete without a couple of hours set aside to wander the winding paths of the village, topped off with a princely 360° view of the big skies and open deserts of the south, from the ancient granary set atop the hill behind the complex.

Where To Stay

Riad Ksar Ighnda

> RIAD KSAR IGHNDA

A restored and extended ancient Kasbah, this riad is a relaxing location to break up your journey to or from the desert and to base yourselves from for a visit to Ait Benhaddou. Enjoy the pool, the traditional Berber décor and music, and the excellent service. Stay here from £90 a night for a double.

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> DAR MOUNA

It’s worth booking a room at Dar Mouna just for the amazing view – the hotel’s terrace is impressively situated right opposite the historic Kasbah Ait Benhaddou with only the riverbed in between. However, the hotel has a lot more to offer than just a view – beautiful décor, a warm welcome to long-distance travellers, superb food. Choose a room from £40 for a double.

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> KASBAH ELLOUZE

This hotel is ideally located in a tiny, quiet village near to Kasbah Tamdaght, a more ruined Glaoui fortress. It boasts views down to the River Ounila and also out over the High Atlas mountains, snow-capped in winter. The owners have gone out of their way to provide a truly relaxing and restful setting for their guest with comfortable rooms, extensive gardens, shady date trees and excellent food. We recommend!

What To Do

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> GUIDED HIKE AROUND KASBAH

Get the most out of your trip to Ait Benhaddou by enjoying a guided hike around the Kasbah. Not only will you discover this living museum in more detail but you can also take the chance to explore some of the surroundings: hike up to the ruined granary and take in the views of the palm trees and rocky desert beyond.

Ait Benhaddou

Best time to visit : October / May Temperature range : 10-44°C Infrastructure : small guesthouses Environment : desert oasis Journey Time : 3 hrs from M'Kech Access : by car